On-the-go consumers using their mobile devices to search for the nearest gas stations make split-second decisions based on many factors. These include gas stations showing up in the search engine results, if the local business listings include marketing materials, and if their ratings and reviews make them competitive with the gas stations across the street.
This means that, in a competitive and saturated market of gas stations coupled with tech-savvy mobile shoppers, gas station and convenience store owners have to change their marketing strategies. While mobile searches do not account for all business to a gas station, this would in fact be incremental business that is currently being missed.
A multi-channel web marketing strategy is crucial to capture and retain consumers through the digital mediums. This effort would include standard web searches, mobile searches, and more importantly, managing the ratings and reviews within the local business listings.
Three Questions To Determine Local Marketability Of A Gas Station
There are three marketing questions to be answered for gas station and convenience stores:
1. Can you be found in desktop and mobile search results for something as simple as “gas stations”?
2. If you are able to be found, do you have your most current marketing materials in your local business listings on multiple search engines, 411 websites, social communities, business directories and mapping websites?
3. If you can be found and have made marketing materials available, are you also managing the ratings and reviews to be competitive with other gas stations nearby?
The Facts Why Gas Stations Need To Be Found
Google’s keyword research tool indicates the following monthly key phrase searches for non-brand generic terms for gas stations and convenience stores in the United States:
- gas stations………….301,000
- gas station…………..135,000
- gas station near me…….74,000
- gas stations near me……60,500
- nearest gas station…….27,100
The volume of searches with these terminologies alone exceeds 500,000 searches per month in the U.S. and is one that cannot be overlooked.
Are Local Consumers Willing To Buy?
A July 2013 article published by Search Engine Watch reported that, “Ninety percent of all searches on mobile related to gas and convenience stores resulted within a purchase. Of that, 35 percent of smartphone users intend to buy immediately; 66 percent intend to purchase within the hour.” The study can be interpreted by gas station and convenience store owners that being found in a search for “gas stations” is more likely to result in a direct purchase within one hour of the search itself.
Test If You Can Be Found In Search Engine Results for “Gas Stations”?
Mobile technology has given en route consumers access information on anything they need, whenever they need it and wherever they may be. Whether the consumer types “gas stations” or “gas stations near me”, you will want your gas station to show before your competitor’s to take advantage of consumers who are ready to make a purchase.
Branded Mobile Apps Shouldn’t Be Your Only Source!
Gas station and convenience store owners tend to associate themselves with a brand mobile application or a generic social community mobile application that depends on consumers sharing prices. While both of these are good marketing channels, based on the volume of searches performed in the search engines like Google, they should not be the only channels.
Gas station and convenience store owners can benefit significantly from expanding their marketing channels to include both desktop and mobile searches. Store owners should not be quick to assume consumers owning a mobile device is in direct relationship to the use of a specific app, because mobile devices have browsers and there are search engine apps on the mobile devices as well.
Information Accuracy And Information Marketing Is Only The Beginning
According to Search Engine Watch, “Eighty percent of mobile searchers in this category are looking for gas and convenience stores within a 5-mile radius. The majority (55 percent) seeks location info and 34 percent look for directions.” If a gas station or convenience store owner has not claimed and updated their business listing information on any search engine websites, how can they expect to be found in the first place?
Business owners need to work with marketers who understand how to effectively strategize and optimize their local presence on both web and mobile. Merchants who have an accurate and consistent profile across multiple sources have a better chance of gaining customers and conversions.
Consumer Ratings and Reviews Stars Need Attention
Let’s assume you can be found, your information is accurate, and you have your most current marketing materials available on both web and mobile searches. The next major marketing element will be the consumer ratings and reviews, which tend to be permanent and available in the search results with stars. Not only do stores need to establish their presence on the web and mobile, but it is equally important they focus on maintaining a positive image to solidify their competitive advantage.
In June 2013, Search Engine Watch shared the results of a a href=”http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2278033/Local-Business-Reviews-Read-By-85-of-Consumers-Survey” title=”Consumer Ratings and Reviews Study” target=”_blank”>consumer review survey which showed how, between 2011 and 2013, there was a 10 percent increase in the number of consumers reading local business reviews. This makes the total 85 percent of local consumers that are paying close attention to the ratings and reviews from other local consumers.
The Search Engine Watch article indicated, “What is good news for local businesses is the fact that not many people are just reading the first review for a local business. More than 60 percent read between two and six online reviews before they form an opinion on the business.” Managing a store’s online reputation effectively takes considerable time and effort. These are elements busy store owners often struggle with, but with the assistance of an innovative marketing partner and well-planned marketing strategy, the desired results are achievable.